Day 9: 6th August 2022

Having sworn I’d never work with balloons again, I came in today armed with two innovations which were going to make it possible. One was HiFloat, with which you coat the inside of balloons before inflating them, prolonging their life (thanks Debbie!) and the other was the most highly rated balloon in the world – the legendary QUALATEX.

I’ve been working with balloons all day, and not one has popped. This has absolutely transformed my balloon-work potentiality.

I used these to complete the half-made hanging taproot. This took me all day, pretty much.

But I took a break mid-morning to explore the artists’ studios of Hertford. Pat, the ceramics tutor doing a class today, has a space in the studio place I visited yesterday. He says the studio space there that is available is ‘leaky’. Hmm. He recommended I look at ‘The Brothership’ – two galleries/studio venues in Hertford owned by the same person. The first, in St Andrew’s Street, is in the oldest builing in Hertford. I met a very friendly artist there, Claire, who told me all about the artists’ spaces (she has one herself).

I loved this old building – how amazing to have a studio here. But there aren’t any going spare. This wooden pillar came from the parliament buiding in Hertford, which is no longer extant: during the plague, the government moved from London to safer ground in Hertford. So it’s not as old as the main building, which is from 1450.

From there I walked to the sister building in Bull Plain. There is a studio going there – but in the next door room was an artist using spray paints which are incredibly toxic. So probably not. Luckily, this gallery is next to the ‘best coffee in Hertford’ (Pat) at the Hertford Coffee Lab. It was great coffee. The charity shops around there are great too; I bought a dress and a blouse while waiting for the Lab to fix their coffee machine.

There were many interesting (and interested) visitors today. People are reminded of a forest (two people asked where the monkeys were) and most people can’t understand what it’s made of and are amazed when they touch the light, brittle cardboard and realise it’s not wood. One man, looking at the pictures of my previous work on the wall (some of which is corporeal in a feminine way, shall we say) asked me if I was a radical feminist. It made me think – maybe I am a radical feminist! (Or maybe you can’t be one without really knowing about it).

Isabelle and her sister Eliza and their grandmother (who is leaving for Australia again tomorrow) revisited, and both girls made snakey tendrils.

Savanna visited again, and after the gallery closed at 4pm we drove to her house in Bengeo (I finally got to experience ‘the hill’ which everyone keeps mentioning, which leads to Bengeo) and she practised reiki on me (she is in training) in the garden underneath a HUGE chestnut tree. It was amazingly relaxing! And she told me that she does reiki on the trees in the garden, and can feel their differences. It reminded me of trees being afforded ‘personhood’ (rights of nature) in certain South American countries. I told Savanna about the book Finding the Mother Tree, about the underground interconnections between trees and mycellium – what this installation is all about, although it’s also a metaphor for all kinds of interconnectedness. I also thought that I would love Savanna to do reiki on our poor tree at home.

Two days off now – the Courtyard Arts ‘weekend’. See you on Tuesday!

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